Quality substitute teachers are vital to the continuity of instruction when teachers are inevitably absent. They allow instruction to continue uninterrupted and ensure that students are supervised and cared for by a responsible educator. But when supply does not equal demand, can districts compromise on the requirements for substitute teacher candidates? The short answer is no. Even under the acute pressure to place a responsible adult in every classroom, the required standards must be met if you want to remain compliant.
Even when school substitute candidates meet all of the mandated qualification requirements, many districts find themselves compromising on other qualities such as professionalism, punctuality, and effectiveness in order to fill teacher absences. Your district shouldn’t have to compromise in order to get as many qualified substitute teachers as you need. Working with a substitute teacher placement agency can ensure that you have a substantial substitute workforce available that meets all of your requirements and expectations, no matter what district you are in.
Substitute Teacher Requirements Vary by District
Though substitute teacher requirements vary by state, some changes have been made to increase the number of candidates who qualify. According to the National Education Association, many districts require a college degree, while others require the completion of some college, and some accept a high school diploma or GED. A few states allow individual school districts to set the requirements.
There is variability, too, in the background checks and fingerprinting requirements, with some districts accepting federal criminal background checks while others require separate state-level checks. In some districts, candidates must submit to a drug screening or test for tuberculosis. The requirement of obtaining a substitute teacher permit or temporary certification is also variable by district. It can be difficult and time-consuming for individual schools to worry about whether their substitutes meet all the necessary district, state, and federal requirements, especially since these requirements tend to change frequently.
This is one area where a substitute teacher placement agency can excel. Look for a staffing solutions partner that tracks substitute teacher requirements across states and districts, and manages the background checking, screening, and credentialing for you. Not only will this keep these costly processes off your own desk, it will also ensure that you remain compliant and well-staffed at the same time.
Strategies to Secure the Best Substitute Teachers for Your District
Beyond the legal and procedural requirements, there are other characteristics and qualities that school districts look for in substitute teachers. Ideal substitute teachers are readily available, punctual, and appropriately dressed. They follow school policies and procedures and make the safety and well-being of district students their top priority. These qualities are equally important and should not be compromised on, even in a teacher shortage.
Here are six strategies to help attract a diverse and highly qualified substitute workforce, even when demand is high:
Strategy #1: Elevate the profession
Substitute teachers are key education professionals and should be recognized as such. Emphasizing their importance and value will go a long way toward replacing outdated, negative stereotypes and making them feel respected and supported.
Strategy #2: Broaden your recruitment efforts
Sometimes the perfect candidates are found in the most unlikely places. Think outside the box when conducting outreach for new substitute teachers, including college fairs, retired teachers eager to get back in the classroom, or qualified individuals looking for a career change.
Strategy #3: Improve the screening and credentialing process
Devoting time and energy to screening and credentialing potential new hires up front will help to ensure your workforce is top-notch. Attention to detail in the hiring process will help to guarantee successful placements down the line.
Strategy #4: Offer competitive wages and superior benefits
To attract the best substitute teacher candidates, school districts must offer attractive compensation packages. By offering competitive wages commensurate with qualifications, school districts invest in the quality of their substitute teacher talent pool. Unique and desirable benefits can also help you secure motivated professionals.
Strategy #5: Extend pre-employment training beyond the basics
In order to prepare substitutes to be classroom-ready, consider going beyond the basics to offer every new hire comprehensive training in best instructional practices and effective classroom management.
Strategy #6: Provide continuing professional development opportunities and mentoring support
Allowing substitute teachers to expand their skills and grow in the profession is a win-win. They hone their talents while learning strategies to improve their job performance. And students benefit from their growing skills in teaching and managing the classroom. Providing the collegial support of experienced mentors increases successful retention and decreases burnout and frustration.
Consider a Timesaving Alternative
There is a simple way to employ all six of those strategies at once, and that is to partner with a reputable education staffing agency who are experts at continuous recruiting and year-round hiring of substitute teachers.
With a dedicated staff to process the background checks and credentials of newly hired substitutes, staffing agencies handle the onboarding process quickly and efficiently. Well acquainted with the skills substitute teachers need to succeed, the right agency will provide informative orientation training as well as ongoing professional development. And finally, a good staffing partner should offer school districts relief from the continuous responsibilities involved in managing a quality substitute teacher pool, including scheduling, payroll, and disciplinary action.
In this time of unprecedented demand in classrooms across the country, schools should not have to compromise their expectations for quality substitute teachers. It is entirely possible to maintain high standards for qualified substitute teachers and to put quality candidates in your classroom absences. Taking some help from industry experts like an education-exclusive staffing agency can streamline the process of finding and hiring enough qualified candidates to ensure that your teacher absences are skillfully and effectively covered.
Contact ESS to ensure the availability of substitute teachers that meet your high expectations. We will work with you to customize a team of education professionals who possess all of your requirements without compromise.
Phil has been supporting school districts across the country for more than 12 years. He works hands-on with districts implementing customized solutions to improve their substitute teacher and support staff programs. When he’s not increasing districts’ fill rates, Phil can be found swinging his clubs on a golf course.